Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stereotypes and Fixed Ideas Prevent Change

When religion does cause a change in the life of a person, there is joy for often we see little that differentiates us from  those without a religion. Korea because of the suicide rate being so high  is doing everything possible to determine the causes and to find remedies. In the recent study by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare,  reported on the front page of the Catholic Times, those with a religion had a lower rate of suicides than those without a religion, and Catholics were the lowest of all those with a religion.

Besides the many reasons, we have for suicides; suicides because of honor and  feelings of guilt are often seen in Asia.  The recent suicide of the vice principal of the high school  who was rescued from the sinking ferry that was carrying students from his high school, was found dead  two days later hanging from a tree with a belt. He expressed regret  having  survived while so many died. Suicides are motivated by many different reasons and are often, not like the vice principal, contemplated for  long periods of time.

Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare  in 2013 reported that those  who attempted suicide 65.5 percent had no religion. The experts in the field  say that the spirituality of the religious person helps them to overcome the hardships and hopelessness they encounter in  life. The numbers of those who attempted suicide, 3.5 percent were Catholic; Buddhists were 9.4 percent, and Protestants were 16 percent.

The article mentions  the reasons the Catholics had  a low rate of suicide were the small  parish groups, the work of the Legion of Mary and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and  the constant teaching on the respect for life that has influenced our Catholics to avoid suicide as a solution to their problems. Since the study showed a correlation of the number of suicides with the religious belief, there are those who think the Church should make efforts to spread the strong points of their teaching on the respect of life.

The investigation by the ministry was an attempt to decrease the number of suicides. This is the first study that was national in scope to study the mental state  of those who killed themselves. Interviews with those who attempted suicide and their families determined the ways they killed themselves and the dangers that prepared one for such an extreme solution to their problems.

One  religious sister at the 'One Heart and One Body  Movement Suicide Center' in Seoul said:  "Each one of us  needs to be filled with the joy of the Gospel, each of us to be interested in our neighbors, to extend our hand to others, to approach others and listen to them. This will help decrease the numbers of suicides and to do this we have to change our vision and our way of thinking." In order to do this many say that the Church has to become interested and invest more in this movement.

In the study,  73.9 percent of the respondents said we cannot  in any way justify the killing of oneself, but 25.6 percent said once a person decides on suicide, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the suicide. Here it will be necessary to work to change this type of thinking. Efforts also necessary to find those who are in hopeless  situations and do what we can to give hope. The campaign, said a priest involved in the welfare work of the diocese, will need a network to identify those living in situations that pose a danger for suicide and encourage people to become involved.

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